What Defines a Group?
Having recently spent a weekend away with friends, I'm reminded why taking time out of my routine to see these friends is so important. We spent three days together at a friend's house in Portland for her baby shower. It was like a big slumber party. We ate, laughed, drank, and caught up on each other's lives. Such a great experience that a core group of us vowed to plan a vacation together each year to ensure we stay in touch (kids and husbands invited).
Groups are as diverse as the individuals in the group. My friend's baby shower included family members (her mom, sister, niece, grandmother), new friends (neighbors, co-workers, pals), high school friends, and the group I fell into: college friends. It was a slice of life; a family-friend combo reunion. Some of us traveled from other cities (by air, train, and car) while many lived nearby.
It didn't really matter (that much) what brought us together. It was the act of getting together that was significant. The baby shower was the icing on the cake (since there was a decadent cake served, we got our cake and ate it, too!). It was our excuse to celebrate friendships and family ties by congratulating our friend on her upcoming baby.
The weekend left me more grounded and self-assured. The whole trip put life in perspective, as only spending time with loved ones can.
The type A geek in me is excited to start planning now for our beach reunion (and I just might!). I figure, if I plan it, shouldn't I get the best room? You know, the one with the king bed and sweeping ocean view.
There's even a catchy term for groups of friends or extended family traveling together, "togethering." Yet there's no universal travel industry definition for groups. Airlines typically define a group as 10 or more people traveling on the same itinerary; hotels often define a group as 10 or more rooms (which can hold 20 or more people). Cruise ships vary, too.
At Group Trip Advisor, we believe a group is anything outside the immediate nuclear family. This may be a group of five women taking a spa vacation to Phoenix, eight guys going skiing in Colorado, or a multi-generational family reunion with 50 participants. Essentially, if there's more than one payment mechanism (i.e. two different credit cards), it is a group.
Groups redefined: The travel industry generally looks at groups as having the same airplane itinerary or block of hotel rooms. Yet if friends or family depart from different cities or at different times, even stay at different places (Jim might stay with his friend, while the rest rent rooms at various places) the travel industry doesn't count them as a group.
Because travelers going on the same trip may leave at different times, depart from different airports or cities, and stay at different places upon arrival, this doesn't mean they aren't a group of friends or family vacationing together.
Beyond blocks of hotel rooms and blocks of seats on a flight, there are many other unmet needs for groups planning trips such as tracking money owed for shared expenses, inviting people and getting RSVPs, sharing itinerary information, discussing hotel options, and other planning parts of trips.
Group discount myths exist. There are a number of factors that impact the availability of discounts when groups are traveling together or are staying in the same hotel. Do't assume that just getting the right size group together automatically entitles you to discounts.
Thanks to Jenny M., who wrote to share her friends group experience: "I also recently had a getaway with my girlfriends and continue to be reminded how much they mean to me. Sure there are small issues such as early risers vs. late risers, but these issues seem easily solveable. Getaways with long-time friends are better than any therapy. I am definitely planning more slumber parties with my friends!"